Markdown supported text editors have become very popular during the last few years. This kind of text editors aren’t there to replace Word or Pages, since they are designed for a different type of a user. Nonetheless, they can be very powerful and a very effective tool for someone who cares about productivity and some very specific workflow aspects concerning the writing process.
iA Writer was one of the first minimalistic text editors which soon became a catalyzer for this type of software. Even though there are a lot of users who are still in love with this piece of software, a development team decided to move forward and create a new application designed to replace this well-known text editor. In this article we’ll take a look at Writer Pro, which is priced at $20. Even though we’ll be taking a look at its OSX version, it’s important to say that there’s an iPad version as well which is also priced at $20, which is altogether a significant investment.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that developers of Writer Pro put a lot of thought in its design and concept, which is unique in this way. According to one of its designers, it was imagined that a writing process is a river which grows from multiple streams (Notes), which are joining one unified stream (Write), which spreads into a delta (Edit), before becoming the ocean (Read). These are actually four main tools which are four separate, yet very connected, sections of this text editor. In other words, this is so called Syntax Control which is something that iA is trying to protect as their own intellectual ownership. This seems to be ongoing problem, since users and other professionals as well know that Apple was the first one who came up with this technology, but which is isn’t marketed as strongly as iA’s own solution.
Even though it seems that Writer Pro is a very serious text editor, at least according to its concept and price, things are not so smooth in practice. You’ll need to put some effort into understanding how this text editor works, since there are a lot of inconsistencies all around its interface. One example is, as many users already noticed, that the read mode is not actually a Markdown preview. And when it comes to Markdown, there are some very basic limitations and lack of features like missing URL link support.
On the other hand, it’s not all bad news. When it comes to somewhat basic operations, Writer Pro is fully functional, especially if you already got some Markdown knowledge. I also need to praise its export features, which are very functional and effortless.
Even though it’s clear that this application was a result of (overly)ambitious project, it does come with a lot of potential. Still, there are a lot of issues, bugs, inconsistencies, and serious limitations. In these terms I need to say that iA Writer is still a much better alternative, at least until Writer Pro receives some updates and fixes.